Moscow and Tel-Aviv increase cooperation
Forum of business initiatives "Israel-Russia 2017-2018" was held yesterday in Moscow within the framework of the 14th Russian-Israeli Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. During the forum participants discussed prospects for cooperation between Israel and Russia, joint projects, establishment of direct partnerships between companies that contribute to strengthening of business cooperation. Presentations of Russian and Israeli companies were shown, and several bilateral agreements and cooperation agreements were signed.
As Jewish news writes in an article "Trade between Israel and Russia leaps by 25 percent", the increase in the first six months of 2017 was over approximately £283 million ($380 million) in trade exchanged hands between Russia and Israel in the corresponding period the previous year. Zeev Elkin, the Cabinet minister responsible for environmental protection and issues connected with Jerusalem, said that “there is still great potential for increase in trade and there is much work ahead of us” in reference to ongoing talks since 2013 on signing a free trade agreement with Russia.
The increase comes amid tight cooperation between Israel and Russia on security issues connected with Syria, where the Russian government is engaged in propping up the beleaguered regime of that country’s president, Bashar Assad. The Russians helped Assad regain much of the territory lost to forces loyal to him since the outbreak of a bloody and brutal civil war in Syrian in 2011. The Russian involvement in Syria on behalf of Assad has complicated Russia’s relations with Turkey, which has aided some forces fighting Assad. The countries’ disagreement on foreign relations has soured trade, with Russia destroying and declining thousands of tons of agricultural produce from Turkey. Russia claimed the produce were diseased but Turkish officials said the move was political. Separately, Russia’s trade with the European Union and the United States has also suffered due to sanctions imposed against Russia by the West. During that period, Russia’s relations with Israel, which has remained neutral both on the Syrian issue as on Ukraine, have noticeably improved, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveling to Moscow at least five times in the space of one year. The strengthening of the Russian rubel, which had lost half of its value against the dollar due to dropping oil prices, also facilitated Russian entity’s capacity for conducting international trade.
Co-chairman of the Russian-Israeli Commission, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, said that the volume of purchased fruit and vegetable products by Russia has increased, and now more and more products of chemical industry, mineral products and grains are supplied to Israel. In addition, Gazprom continues to work with its Israeli partners on the gas engine fuel. Tourist flow has increased by 25%, interregional cooperation is developing, including in pharmaceutical industry and cooperation between business councils. Another round of consultations on a free trade zone agreement will be held in the near future.
Intergovernmental commission also discussed project of introducing Israeli dairy farming technologies, implementation of which has began two years ago. "During this time, a huge work was carried out to select regions where large livestock complexes could be built. Voronezh, Tambov regions and the Republic of Tatarstan could become pilot regions," Arkady Dvorkovich said. Right now partners already have an understanding of how they will cooperate, but it is necessary to determine the financing mechanism.